Loved ones release butterflies to remember those lost over the past year

Big group comes to Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home for program and release

Mike Christopherson
Sue Anderson's butterfly perches on her hand before flying away. Her husband, Mark, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 53 on May 26, 2020.

It's never easy to lose a loved one. In fact, it's always excruciating and painful. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many people not only passed away largely alone and then their families were unable to hold traditional funeral services afterward because of pandemic restrictions on gatherings, it was all the more heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching.

Betty Johnson and her daughter, Kathy Anderson, release their butterflies. Betty's husband and Kathy's dad, Stanley Johnson, passed away on Jan. 19, 2021.
Laurie Awender, left, and other release butterflies.

Although the pandemic is still with us, on Tuesday evening, the Butterfly Journey Grief Group hosted a well-attended program at Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home in Crookston. After the hour-plus program inside that featured speakers like local attorney Stephanie Harbott providing sound probate advice and Hospice of the Red River Valley highlighting the grief journey and services they provided, everyone ventured outside the funeral home, where they picked out of a basket individually wrapped Origami paper shaped like a butterfly. Soon after, they opened up the paper, and inside was an actually butterfly that flew away. Jim Bredman of Stenshoel-Houske said the butterflies were shipped to Crookston from Orlando, Florida. They are a species that will thrive in this climate.

Bonnie Christians gives out Origami butterflies outside Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home.
Jean Rock, right, and others release butterflies.